When shopping in any store that carries national brands, it's virtually impossible to remember which ones you're not supposed to buy for which reasons. This one uses palm oil … or was it this one? This brand is "all-natural" but it sprays evil chemicals all over the world. This company kills panda babies. And so forth. You can either hold out for Sunday's farmers market and not eat in the meantime, or just go ahead and buy the cornmeal from the brand that's probably in bed with Monsanto.
But now a programmer named Ivan Pardo is putting an end to this misery. Scan a product with his app, Buycott, and it analyzes the insane web of corporate ownership in order to tell you exactly what terrible policies you'd be supporting if you bought that cereal.
It's pretty simple, really. Hens lay eggs until they're about three. And then they live for five to seven years after that. Strauss says:
Bear with me here as I do some Urban Homesteader math. One layer hen eats about 1.5 pounds of layer feed per week. (Pastured birds will eat less purchased feed – yet another good reason to buy this book and study it before you design your coop and run.)
If a chicken starts laying at 6 months old (this is a bit later than average but it makes my numbers easy) and has essentially stopped laying by 4 years old, and lives naturally to be 8, a backyard chicken keeper is looking at 3.5 years of egg production time, and 4.5 years of Pets Without Benefits time. That’d be 351 pounds of feed going to a hen that isn’t making eggs!
Current, local prices for the layer rations I feed my hens is $28 per 40 pound bag, or $.70 a pound. Admittedly, this is a bit spendy, but I get the locally produced, happy-hippie, GMO-free feed from the lovely folks at Scratch & Peck. At those prices, it costs $245.70 to maintain a hen into theoretical old age and natural demise while you aren’t getting any eggs.
Perhaps you are fine with that. Perhaps your chicken is cute enough that you want to spend hundreds of dollars to keep it pecking in your backyard. But perhaps it is not. Then, your choices are: Kill that nice chicken and make it into soup, or try to make it someone else's problem.
Thames Water, which provides drinking water to London, wants to start providing Londoners with recycled wastewater. And 63 percent of people who took a totally unscientific Guardian poll said they would be fine with this.
This is a self-selected sample of people, but it is at least a little bit surprising that more people did not kick and scream and yell, "No, I will not drink other people's filtered pee -- even if I can't tell the difference!"
The Guardian explains the plan:
Essentially, instead of allowing wastewater that has been treated in sewage works to go back into the river and flow into the sea, the company proposes to put that water upstream, where it would mix with river water and go into a drinking-water treatment works.
Although some treated wastewater, dumped into the Thames upstream, already makes it way into London's drinking water, this plan would increase the concentration to as much as 50 percent.
Yes, sure, fine, it is possible to get a somewhat healthy sandwich at Subway. It will have watery, shredded lettuce on it, and peppers, and maybe avocado. It will taste like nothing. And let's be real: That is not what people are ordering at Subway. They are ordering the foot-long Italian sub, with its layers of (relatively) delicious, fatty meat. Or they are ordering the Big Philly Cheesesteak.
The result of these choices is that, despite Subway's enormously successful advertising campaign pitching it as a healthy fast-food alternative, the chain is feeding just as much crappy food to people as McDonald's is. Or, as the New York Daily News reports:
"We found that there was no statistically significant difference between the two restaurants, and that participants ate too many calories at both," public health scholar Dr. Lenard Lesser, who led the study, said in a statement.
TV isn't exactly an environmentally friendly form of entertainment. Ever-improving screens and all their associated gadgets need, according to the law of conspicuous consumption, to be replaced as soon as financially possible once a better model comes along, and they're energy-vampires.
But no matter how much energy they suck up, TVs are still more environmentally friendly than those energy-intensive creations known as children.
And, as Brad Plumer writes at the Washington Post, as a country's TV ownership grows and more women are exposed to media, the fertility rate begins to decline. He explains:
This isn’t as bizarre as it seems. A 2009 paper (pdf) by Robert Jensen and Emily Oster found that the introduction of cable television “is associated with significant decreases in the reported acceptability of domestic violence towards women and son preference, as well as increases in women’s autonomy and decreases in fertility.” It’s far from certain that television alone is driving these changes, but the evidence is suggestive.
A few weeks ago, Noluck Tafuruka was arrested by police in Zimbabwe for possessing a rifle without a license. But he's doing better than his partner, Solomon Manjoro. The two men allegedly snuck into Zimbabwe's Charara National Park with the intention of bagging some valuable wild animals.
But one elephant that they tried to take down had had it up to here with poachers -- and when you’re an elephant, “up to here” is pretty high. The elephant charged Manjoro and trampled him.
Steel is one of those industries that generates more than its fair share of greenhouse gases -- 5 percent of the world total. But now an MIT scientist has figured out how to make steel without any greenhouse gas emissions whatsoever.
The easiest way to do this would be to make it on the moon. MIT explains:
[MIT professor Donald] Sadoway found that a process called molten oxide electrolysis could use iron oxide from the lunar soil to make oxygen in abundance, with no special chemistry. He tested the process using lunar-like soil from Meteor Crater in Arizona -- which contains iron oxide from an asteroid impact thousands of years ago -- finding that it produced steel as a byproduct.
Sadoway’s method used an iridium anode, but since iridium is expensive and supplies are limited, that’s not a viable approach for bulk steel production on Earth.
There's a reason why Sadoway started out with moon soil: He was working on a grant meant to help figure out how to provide oxygen for future lunar settlers to breathe. And then, while fiddling with that problem -- poof! -- he made steel.
Plants talk to each other. They don't use their words, like our moms and dads taught us to do instead of making faces and grumping around. But when they need to -- particularly when they're under threat -- they let each other know. Scientists have known for a while that plants will send out chemical signals in the air as a warning system, but now they've discovered that plants have a secret underground network of communication, too.
Many plants grow in partnership with mycorrhizal fungi, and, as the BBC reports, a new study found for the first time that those fungal systems transmit messages for the plants whose roots they grow on. When aphids attack one plant in the network, the fungi let the other plants know, and those plants start mounting their defenses.
It works just like any alliance, explains the BBC. Each party gets something out of it:
Here is what Subaru thinks of the subway: It's smelly, full of (horrors) people, and slow. You don't even want to know what the car company has to say about subway commuters. But it's willing to tell you. While you're on the subway.
A Streetsblog reader alerted fellow transit nuts to this ad that the car company ran in Metro, that free newspaper you're handed while headed into the station each morning:
It promises an “odour free ride to work," the end of “obligatory transit conversations with coworkers," and “half off arbitrary and inexplicable transit delays.” Or, as the ad puts it:
While you’re sitting on public transit, just imagine your commute in a new Subaru Impreza. No weird smells, no overhearing awful music, and nobody asking you for spare change.
Many zero-energy, efficient green homes look like boxes. Maybe they're repurposed shipping containers, or maybe they've just got those clean, straight lines that zip off into the future and are so popular today. Either way, they're rarely cozy. But this one, built in Romania, is cozy enough and woodsy enough that we can just see Bilbo Baggins making a spot of tea through its large, high-efficiency, let-the-natural-light-in windows.
Modern, hip Bilbo, obviously. He would wear a scarf and Warby Parkers.